Finding My Yoga Teacher Training

How does one come to find the right yoga teacher training?

There are a few moments at the end of class when you sit up from the “cake,” as my teacher used to call Savasana, and inevitably some announcements are made about upcoming events. I never listened to these events. I never thought I was the one they were announcing them for.  I just liked coming to yoga to feel my body move and to get clear in my mind, to hear some words of wisdom to inspire me through the week, nothing more or less. One day after the “cake,” there was that moment, the yoga promotion. Only this time, the teacher turned briefly toward me, said “YOU would be perfect for this yoga teacher training.” I smiled and wondered at this comment. I deeply respected her and felt she had a lot of knowledge to offer me, but I didn’t want to become a teacher or anything…

Later some little light bulb went off in my mind. Actually I WOULD be perfect for the yoga teacher training. I was going through a rough patch, one of those small crises of purpose and career. I was going through a breakup and feeling the need for a deep wellspring to fill me. It was the perfect time for me to devote to learning something new, to devoting some effort to my self. I was rich in time, and poor in dollars, but I never wanted money to hold me back. It made me think, I can use this to know myself better, to love myself more, to spend my time doing something positive.  All good things can proceed from there.

So I signed up, feeling scared but optimistic. In the yoga teacher training, there were about 25 of us, and over that first weekend we had to choose someone to be our yoga “buddy.” I looked around the room and felt intimidated. People seemed so confident and comfortable! I felt nervous even to speak when we had our opening circle and were describing why we had committed to this program.

At the end of the weekend, I found my yoga buddy, or my yoga buddy found me: a hummingbird of a girl, tattooed all over with bits of text from Alice Walker books and third eyes and colorful lilies, and sparkling with an inner beauty. We tied red strings on each others wrists to remind ourselves of the commitment we had made to this program. I felt a new part of me open to this community of people. My red string caught my eye often, reminding me of the confidence I felt in the commitment I was making, to myself, to my health, to my clarity and strength of mind.

Over the course of the year as we met, we saw each other through good times and bad. We chanted and sang, learned about our doshas, practiced deeply refined versions of asana, looked at our poses and corrected one another’s alignment, meditated together by candlelight, sat in small groups and discussed big questions of life and spirituality, laughed and cried together about our answers and our honesty. There was really nothing scary here, in this room full of people who were all fabulously fascinating, kind, and devoted.

There was only an opening, that I followed, to something warm and delicious, and which still lives and breathes inside me, guiding me into the future.

Written by Namaste Creative Director, Helene Cotton || Photography by Lindsay Isola + Helene Cotton

Interested in learning more about Namaste’s signature Yoga Immersion and 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training?

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The Dark Side of Detoxing

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery 

Last week my Facebook newsfeed flooded with updates about detoxing. “Cleanse Day 3: lost 2 lbs., drinking a kale smoothie, and feeling great!”

I admit it: The detox stuff makes me cringe. What makes us feel so filthy that we need to be cleansing? Are we packaging traditional, restrictive, and short-term dieting in New Age jargon?

In my graduate studies in Holistic Health Education I once tried a detox program during a nutrition course. I juiced vegetables twice a day, ate a mineral broth at night, and sipped the Master Cleanse lemonade concoction through the day.  I lost 8 lbs. in that week. The next two weeks I regained that 8lbs.

That week I detached from my fundamental hunger cues and the social connections of sharing food. I felt lonely, hungry, and miserable. My classmates and friends praised my perseverance as an act of asceticism. Why do we consider self-denial so commendable and pious?

Admittedly, not eating whole foods for a week took it a little far. Yet the experiment taught me a lot. Perhaps self-control is the exception in our first-world abundance.

Bombarded with an oversupply of tantalizing food, health information, and dietary instruction,  it’s easily to feel lost and out of control. With a vow not to cross over to the dark side, a cleanse contains you in predetermined choices. Yet depending on the program, the dark side may contain food like yogurt and oatmeal.

Detox protocols are always described by their forbidden list. The diabolical foods often include wheat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and sugar. With every bite  you can anoint yourself as a saint or a sinner. Good girls eat their chard and quinoa. Succumbing to a pizza craving is bad. “Cleansing” atones for your dietary sins. Doesn’t that thinking perpetuate yo-yo dieting?

How do we evolve beyond this dogma? What builds a more sustainable and stable approach to eating? Most importantly, when are my friends going off their detox so we can go out for dinner?

First, I acknowledge we live in an era of mindless consumption.  Any eating plan offers awareness of the foods and drinks that enter our mouth. A proper elimination diet can successfully identify allergens and food sensitivities that cause chronic health problems. The rigidly of a prescribed diet provides a chance to witness and contend with our addictions and habits.

Ultimately, the program should equip you with enough self-knowledge that you no longer need a program.  The goal of any health plan should be to build a resilient self-concept beyond the doctrines of good and evil. When you trust yourself, ubiquitous temptations no longer haunt like hungry ghosts and continual purging becomes unnecessary. Detox programs can offer a dietary “makeover” but eventually the training wheels need to come off.  Balanced nourishment sustains long-term health and allows for daily, sensual pleasures.

Read more from Sadie on her blog.

Find a class with Sadie at Namaste here.

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